Which One Won? Self-help books with swear words

Lately, self-help books with swear words have become their own genre. Some people love a good expletive. Others find them vulgar and unfit for genteel society.

But let’s admit it: we’ve probably all cursed before. Do we want to see swear words in book titles, though?

One PickFu user tested this very question for a book about losing weight without a diet.

Option A reads, “Fuck Diets. Discover the 4 Ridiculously Simple Habits to Effectively Stop Your Body From Storing Fat and Look Fabulous.”

Option B says, “You Look Fabulous! Discover The New 4-Habit Secret To Painlessly Get The Body Of Your Dreams Even When You’re Over Diets.”

Can you guess which one won?

And the winner is…the F-bomb option, also known as Option A.

Let’s find out why respondents didn’t mind the colorful word.

Blunt honesty is appreciated

Several respondents loved the refreshingly unapologetic title in Option A.

“Diets are the worst and this title reflects that,” said one respondent.

Another added, “The vulgarity of Option A is jarring in a way that people who have issues with their weight will want to check this book out…. Just reading the first two words of it, I think, ‘I know, right?!'”

She’s so right. If you have ever tried dieting, you’ve probably uttered an expletive about how horrible it was at some point.

Maybe at the beginning, when you craved the thing your diet forbade you from eating.

Or maybe at the end, when after one glorious yet guilt-laced cheat day (or week), you gained back all the weight you’d lost.

Far from alienating readers, the blunt title welcomes everyone into a diet-hating club.

And who wouldn’t want to join?

Avoid clichés

For many respondents, Option B made their eyes roll. The title echoed the millions of self-help books about weight loss that have already hit shelves, and respondents weren’t having it.

One said, “Option B just sounds like a very generic self-help book that we’ve all seen on a bookshelf. Option A sounds like a real person wrote it about real things.”

Another pointed out something that all authors should keep in mind when choosing a book title.

“[Option A’s] title sticks out from every other dieting book! Since there are so many of these types of books out there, it’s super important to have a title that is unique, catches people’s eye/ear, and that people are going to talk about.”

If you have to use an expletive to stand out from the crowd, so be it. But make sure it works. In the case of this book about how not to diet, it works because everyone can relate to the point it’s making.

You wouldn’t, for example, throw an F-bomb into the title for a book about puppies.

Key takeaways: Self-help books with swear words

These days, people don’t want empty promises framed in predictable words. They want raw, real honesty. If you’re writing a self-help book, know that readers want to relate to you from the moment they scan the title.

Your goal, then, is to make your title honest, refreshing, and attention-grabbing.

If you need help coming up with title ideas, test a few variants on PickFu with readers and see which one they like best.

And don’t be afraid to slip a nice curse word in there to see what respondents think!

Laura Ojeda Melchor

Laura Ojeda Melchor (she/her) is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Parents.com, Mom.com, Gardener’s Path, and of course, PickFu. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her debut middle-grade novel, Missing Okalee, was published in the fall of 2021 by Shadow Mountain Publishing.